In this medical malpractice action, plaintiffs claimed the board certified defendant doctors deviated from the standard of care in their specialties of pediatrics and pediatric critical care. The trial court barred the testimony of plaintiffs' expert, finding he did not satisfy the requirements of the New Jersey Medical Care Access and Responsibility and Patients First Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-37 to -42. More particularly, the trial court found that although the expert was board certified in pediatrics and pediatric critical care, he was not qualified to testify under the Act because, at the time of the alleged malpractice, he did not spend a majority of his professional time in either active clinical practice in the specialties, as required by N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41(a)(2)(a), or instructing students in the specialties as required by N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41(a)(2)(b).
The court reverses and holds the expert satisfied the Act's qualification requirements. The court determined the evidence established the expert practiced in the same specialties as the defendant doctors, and thereby met the requirements of N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41(a). The court further concluded that where the alleged malpractice occurred during the practice in a specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and a defendant doctor is board certified in the specialty, the plaintiffs' expert must also satisfy either the requirements of N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41(a)(1) or N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41(a)(2). The court found the trial court erred by finding the expert was required to satisfy the requirements of either N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41(a)(2)(a) or (b) where the evidence otherwise established the expert was credentialed at a hospital to treat patients for the condition at the time of the alleged malpractice, and thereby satisfied the requirements of N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41(a)(1).